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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 98983 Find in a Library
Title: Discrimination and the Decision to Incarcerate (From Criminal Justice System and Blacks, P 315-334, 1984, Daniel Georges-Abeyie, ed. - See NCJ-98968)
Author(s): S Zimmerman; B C Frederick
Date Published: 1984
Page Count: 20
Sponsoring Agency: Clark Boardman Company, Ltd
New York, NY 10014
Sale Source: Clark Boardman Company, Ltd
435 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
United States of America
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: In this study, possible racial/ethnic discrimination in judicial sentencing decisions was investigated in a cohort of 1980 New York State felony convictions.
Abstract: Data were obtained from the New York State Computerized Criminal History/Offender-Based Transaction Statistics data base. Of the 11,098 probation-eligible defendants, 53 percent belonged to a minority group (40 percent black, 13 percent Hispanic). Analysis by region indicates that the disproportionality in incarceration rates was low in New York City and high in upstate and suburban regions. In the latter, white defendants predominated and were less likely than minorities to be incarcerated. A binary logit analysis technique was used to control for the effects of prior record, type of crime (personal, property, drug), seriousness (Class A, B, C), and race. Results of these analyses indicate that different variables have different weightings in determining whether or not a defendant is incarcerated in different regions of the State. While prior record was the most influential variable in all three regions, its impact was greatest in New York City. The magnitude of the race effect, adjusting statistically for the other factors, was negligible in New York City but appreciable in upstate. While race had less weight than prior record, it was more influential than offender age. The statistical model developed by the analyses can be used to determine the probabilities of incarceration in the three regions for hypothetical cases varying in the pertinent variables. A simulation indicates that similarly situated hypothetical defendants face systematically different risks of incarceration depending on where the case is decided and whether the defendant is black of white. Seven notes, tabular data, and 16 references are included.
Index Term(s): Black/African Americans; Court research; Discretionary decisions; Hispanic Americans; Mathematical modeling; New York; Racial discrimination; Sentencing disparity; Sentencing factors
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